Welker’s Top 10 Best/Worst Patriots Moments
By Kevin Saleeba
In the six years as a member
of the New England Patriots, Wes Welker simply became the franchise’s
all-time leading receiver.
During that span, Welker made
some big plays; set some records and made some big mistakes. Whatever
the outcome, number 83 had six memorable seasons.
10 – Super Bowl
Welker tied Dan Ross, Jerry Rice, and former Patriots receiver Deion Branch with a Super Bowl
record 11 receptions for 103 yards in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008.
9 – 2007 Record
During his first season in New
England, Welker set an NFL record in 2007. He had the most receptions
by a player in his first season with a new team (rookie or veteran)
with 112 receptions.
8 – 2008 record
In a season where All-Pro
quarterback Tom Brady missed virtually the entire 2008 season, Welker
still was able to grab at least six receptions in the first eleven
games of that season. This feat set an NFL record, previously held by
Jacksonville’s Jimmy Smith with eight in 2001. Welker finished second
in the league behind Andre Johnson with 111 receptions with Matt Cassel
throwing him the ball.
7 – Foot-Gate
Prior to the playoff loss to
the New York Jets in 2011, Welker was benched for the teams’ first
offensive series after he made foot references in a press conference
during the week leading up to the game. Welker humorously took shots at
Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s highly publicized foot fetish.
6 – All-Time
In the 2012 Patriots home
opener against the Arizona Cardinals, Welker caught five passes for 95
yards, averaging 19 yards a reception. The performance vaulted Welker
pass Troy Brown to become the all-time franchise leader in receptions.
5 – Turkey Day
Welker had two touchdowns on
eight catches with 90 yards in a 45-24 massacre of the Detroit Lions on
Thanksgiving Day in 2010.
4 – AFC
The Patriots were driving and
apparently in control of the AFC Championship game against Baltimore.
New England had the ball on the Ravens 34-yard-line on a
third-and-eight and a 13-7 lead.
Brady spotted Welker making
his break along the left sideline and gunned it to the Patriots
all-time leading receiver, but Welker let the ball slip right through
his fingers, hitting his face mask for an incomplete pass. If Welker
had made the catch, it would have been first down near the 25-yard-line
and possibly a scoring drive for New England. The play did not go down
as a turnover on the stat sheet, but it was as good as one.
The momentum shifted to the
Ravens and they never looked back as the entire game changed from that
moment. Baltimore went on to score 21 unanswered points for the victory
and Super Bowl berth.
3 – Passing Three
Welker had 16 receptions for
217 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 3 2011 game against the Buffalo Bills. The performance tied Troy Brown’s Patriots record of 16
receptions in a single game and broke Terry Glenn’s franchise record of
214 yards. The game also marked Welker's 64th consecutive
regular-season game with a reception, breaking tight end Ben Coates’
record of 63 games.
2 – 99 Yards
During the 2011 Season opener
on Monday Night football against Miami, Welker caught a 99-yard
touchdown pass from Tom Brady, which included a devastating stiff-arm
on cornerback Jimmy Wilson around the 40-yard-line. The stiff-arm sent
Wilson plummeting to the ground as Welker sprinted another 60 yards to
the end zone. Welker finished the game with 160 yards receiving and two
1 – Super Bowl Drop
The Patriots had the
ball on the Giants 44-yard-line clinging to a 17-15 lead late in the
fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI. The clock was ticking down to the
three minute mark and New York had no time outs left.
The Giants secondary was
scrambling over their coverage assignments and as Tom Brady dropped
back to pass, he saw an uncovered Wes Welker slip through the Giants
secondary. Brady lofted a pass in Welker’s direction and all he had to
do was catch the ball. A reception meant the Patriots could milk the
clock to another championship. In a season where he had 122 catches to
lead the league in reception and with the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI on
the line, Welker could not come up with the big play. It was a Bill
Buckner in shoulder pads moment.
“It’s right there and it hits
me right in the hands,” Welker said after the game. “It’s one I will
have to live with.”
Unfortunately Patriots fans
have to live it as well. Despite all the good plays Welker had in a
Patriots uniform, the Super Bowl drop will be his Patriots legacy as he
heads off to Denver.
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to
Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has
extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba.